In August, the Twin Cities metro got another store to service us local nerds: Epic Comics and Collectibles, located at 2730 Stillwater Road East in Maplewood. Driving by for the first time, I nearly missed the store, which is right at the crossroads of Stillwater Road and Century Avenue, but decided to trust my instincts and pull up to a building with a vintage Oakdale Pharmacy sign. It turns out this old pharmacy has traded in its shelves common cures for shelves chock full of comic books, Funko Pop! figures, and other collectibles. The store was still in the process of setting up when I visited, but I could still get a good sense of the vibe it was going for.
Epic Comics and Collectibles kicked off business with a bang of a grand opening, featuring local comic book artists, prize drawings for rare comics (including a Superman: The Man of Steel #18 signed by Dan Jurgens), and a tent sale complete with video games, action figures, and comic books. The store focused its promotion on its Amazon-like loyalty program, which allows you to pay $20 a year to receive 20 percent off new comics and 10 percent off everything in the store. For the comic book geek, this is a fantastic deal, and one I’d recommend our readers take advantage of—though I think the economics of the program might be a challenge for the store given how it could cut into their long-term margins. Typically, retailers embark on programs like these to establish long-term loyalty or entice repeat fans to keep coming back, and they may have been able to accomplish that goal with a lower-term offer; traditionally I’ve seen certain promo days highlighted, or deals limited to comic books. It will be interesting to see whether Epic’s program allows the store to both maintain profits and long-term weekly fans.
What I most enjoyed about the store and its location was the tabletop gaming area off the sales floor. I like that it’s set aside from the floor because it gives you the room to participate in tabletop games away from the crowd perusing the in-store wares. The also houses an arcade machine featuring Marvel vs. Capcom art—but don’t let the art fool you, as it comes complete with 2,000 classic arcade games preprogrammed. The area should have plenty of room for a couple of concurrent tabletop games, plus it has a TV where you can rent a classic Nintendo system and conquer some levels of Mario in between board-gaming sessions.
I also enjoyed the Funko Pop! assortment, which had a good mix of older, more collectible figures interspersed with the rare and new comics throughout the sales floor. While I’ve dabbled in the hobby with a select few that adorn my work desk, I’ve never fully committed to collecting these wildly popular toys. The store had hundreds of them, including rare Pop!s that were contained in glass cases, and most appeared to be reasonably priced. I can definitely see this store as a great location to help bolster any Funko fanatic’s collection.
I’m glad that Epic Comics and Collectibles is now open and catering to geeks throughout Maplewood and St. Paul. It’s a great location, and I look forward to seeing how the store tailors itself to the local market.
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